2014 Legislative Session Winner: Jack Latvala

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Welcome to the Latvala Show, a political spectacle of strategic positioning.

Bills and policy triumphs aside, the big picture is about who will assume the Senate presidency next: Jack Latvala or Joe Negron.

Here’s how Latvala used the 2014 session to all but ensure his success. Negron opposed an idea that has grown in popularity across party lines: allowing children of undocumented immigrants in-state tuition rates, providing that these children had been students for at least three years in a Florida high school. Negron’s stance against this measure was unconvincing, and it blew open a hole big enough for Latvala to exploit.

The Tampa Bay ringmaster rallied two-thirds of the Senate to his cause. He can now hold this out to his colleagues as an example of Negron’s outdated views and lack of leadership skills.

That may be enough to tip the scales in Latvala’s favor and break the stalemate in the race to assume Senate leadership. Adding to this prediction: it is more than likely that Latvala will be the right-hand man to incoming President Andy Gardiner. This position is arguably more powerful than that of the presidency itself, at least in the hands of such an able political veteran. Latvala has two years to fill that vacuum around Gardiner.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.